By Rebecca Seales
BBC News

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  • Coronavirus pandemic

image copyrightBrody familyimage captionL-R: Diarist Bob Brody with his son Michael, daughter Caroline, and wife Elvira, pictured in 1995

The pandemic has presented many with an urge to express their feelings in writing. And for some that means passing on, in letters to their children, parts of themselves hitherto hidden from view.

"I think a lot of families faced the same quandary that I was running into – do my kids really know about my life? Maybe I should tell them while I still can. Because at some point it's gonna be too late." – Bob Brody

The pain and privations of this weird year have reshaped many families. From lost loved ones, to relationships frayed – or formed – in the intensity of lockdown.

Diary-writing has been booming, as a way to carve out mental space or clarify feelings while we grapple with instability. And if you've tried to explain the new world to children, perhaps it's left a sense that we're living through something worth recording. Something they'll understand better if we can pass our memories on.

The literary history of parental letter-writing goes back to Ancient Rome, where the philosopher and statesman Cicero wrote a three-book essay to his son Marcus, outlining how to act with honour. More recently, Barack Obama released a picture book, Of Thee I Sing: A Letter to My Daughters, in 2010, during his first term as US president.